Gochugaru, also known as Korean chili flakes, is a coarsely ground chili powder made using sun-dried red chilies, often at home by hand, and used in many recipes, famously Kimchi and stews and the more commonly Gochujang paste.
Gochugaru is available in 2 types, a mild version, deolmaewoon gochugaru, and a spicy version called maewoon gochugaru.
Based on the spice required in the recipes, these varieties are used. It ranks at between 1000-2500(milder) and 2500-8000(hotter) SHU.
10 Gochugaru Substitutes
The best substitute for Gochugaru are – Aleppo Pepper Flakes, New Mexico Chilli Powder, Kashmiri Pepper, Gochujang Paste, Cayenne Pepper, Chile De Arbol, Chipotle Peppers, Guajillo Powder, Chile Pasilla, Alma Paprika. They are discussed in detail here –
Aleppo Pepper Flakes
These flakes originate from turkey and are processed similarly to Gochugaru. Thus they have an almost identical texture to it, somewhere in between flakes and a fine powder.
Moreover, Aleppo pepper flakes are bright red, which may help you achieve a similar color.
Aleppo pepper flakes are arguably spicier than gochugaru. It has an intense spicy flavor and a fruity after-taste that Gochugaru does not possess. It is a good replacement but should be used carefully because of its high spice level.
You can come very close to the flavor of Gochugaru by using Aleppo pepper flakes since it has a similar texture and color. The fruitiness may not be identical to gochugaru but may compensate for Gochugaru’s iconic sweetness.
New Mexico Chilli Powder
New Mexico chili is a simple and milder alternative to Gochugaru since it lies at around 500-2500 on the Scoville scale ; it isn’t very spicy and is a safer option to pick if you are unsure of your spice tolerance.
You can use a combination of red and green Mexican chilies in your recipes since green can provide a similar flavor, and red can provide an identical color and texture to your recipe. These are also easier to find as compared to Gochugaru.
This mild pepper is a good replacement to use in place of Gochugaru in your Korean recipes. Green varieties can come very close to Gochugaru’s flavor; red ones recreate color and texture.
Known for its rich red color, dry Kashmiri red chilies can be powdered in a food processor to reach the optimum texture and the color of Gochugaru. This can create an almost identical color and texture to gochugaru.
Kashmiri chili ranges at 1000-2000 units on the Scoville scale, coming very close to the authentic gochugaru.
Kashmiri pepper is milder than other Indian peppers and can easily replace the spicier variant of gochugaru.
Kashmiri red chilies are easier to come across than Gochugaru.
This alternative to gochugaru can be found easily and can provide a color and texture identical to gochugaru.
This paste is a common Korean kitchen ingredient that uses the same pepper used to make Gochugaru. You are more likely to find gochujang paste as opposed to Gochugaru, given its increasing popularity.
Gochujang paste contains more ingredients, including salt, rice, and soy, and hence will add a paste-like texture and a salty flavor.
So if you plan on going with this alternative, be careful while seasoning your dishes since you might end up oversalting your recipes.
Gochujang paste is easier to find as compared to gochugaru and can easily substitute it.
It has additional ingredients like salt and soy and must be used carefully alongside other seasonings.
While cayenne pepper is a lot spicier than Gochugaru, it has a very similar color and texture when in a flake form. If you can find seedless flakes, prefer them since they will be less hot, and provide the same color and texture.
Cayenne is a common ingredient in Korean kitchens. It can be used in powder form, too, since it will be milder and may also provide a similar color. You may soak flakes in warm water if you want to use them for Kimchi.
Cayenne pepper is a hotter alternative to Gochugaru but is a common ingredient in Korea. It has a similar color and texture. Use sparingly to achieve the correct heat level.
Chile De Arbol
Chile De Arbol is a very spicy pepper with a bright red color and a similar sweet profile that can emulate Gochugaru when used appropriately.
Chile de Arbol is available in the form of flakes and powder. It is known for its smoky and nutty flavor and goes well in Korean recipes.
Chile De Arbol is a spicy pepper that you can use in powder or flakes. It has a bright red color and can be used(in moderation) to replace Gochugaru in many Korean recipes.
Dry red jalapenos are known as chipotle peppers. These peppers taste smoky, sweet, and hot, a flavor profile that matches Gochugaru very closely. It does have fruity undertones that are good for use in Kimchi and stews too.
Chipotle chili peppers should be purchased dry and processed in a processor until you reach a similar consistency to Gochugaru.
While these may not provide a very similar texture, they can come close. Do be careful, though; too much chipotle may overpower your dish and scorch your tongue.
Chipotle peppers are good to use instead of Gochugaru, while they are spicier. These chilies must be used with caution since they may overpower dishes.
Guajillo powder is made of a Mexican pepper called Guajillo, which translates to ‘small gourd’. This chili powder is not only close to Gochugaru in moderate spiciness; its innate tang makes it very similar to authentic Korean flakes.
Guajillo is Aleppo pepper’s close cousin in that it has a similar flavor. While Aleppo is spicier and more vibrant, Guajillo is milder and not as rich in color as Aleppo chili flakes.
Guajillo is a moderately hot chili pepper from Mexico. In powder or flake form, this pepper has a similar taste to Gochugaru and also possesses an identical tang.
This pepper comes very close to the heat profile of Gochugaru. Chile pasilla ranks anywhere between 1000 to 4500 Scoville heat units, making milder varieties close to deolmaewoon gochugaru.
The one downside to using chile pasilla is the dark color. This is vastly different from that of Gochugaru, and if you are willing to overlook this color difference, you can consider this alternative in your recipes.
Chile Pastilla is a pepper that has a very similar heat level to that of Gochugaru. It has a dark color.
Alma Paprika is a hot pepper powder that has a vibrant red variant that can easily replace Gochugaru. It also has a Scoville Heat Unit of 1500, close to that of Gochugaru, specifically the milder variety, deolmaewoon Gochugaru.
Alma paprika is pretty mild and can be used along with regular paprika powder, in a coarse flake form, by combining the two in their dry form inside a food processor to achieve a similar red color and heat level, along with the fruity undertones.
Also known as sweet apple peppers, these bright red mild chili peppers make a good replacement for the softer variety of Gochugaru.
Korean chili flakes, authentically Gochugaru, are made of Gochu chilies, originating from Korea. These pepper flakes have a coarse texture between regular flakes and a fine powder and have a nutty and smoky flavor. Traditional chili flakes are generally a blend of common red chilies that don’t have a complex flavor profile.
Gochugaru is a moderately spicy chili pepper flake that reads anywhere between 1000-8000 Scoville Heat Units.
Market red chili powder generally consists of a mixture of different red chilies and is often very hot. It may have a similar red color but does not have the texture or flavor of Gochugaru, and that’s why it is not a great alternative to it.
Both Gochugaru and Gochujang are made with the Gochu chili pepper. The difference lies in the consistency and texture. Gochugaru is sundried Gochu chilies processed into dry flakes, and gochujang is in paste form, containing other ingredients like salt, rice, and soybeans. It is also fermented.
The nutty and slightly smoky flavor of authentic Korean Gochugaru can be recreated with ingredients you can find around y
ou. This list discusses some other ingredients that come close to the utility of this ingredient.
Hopefully, your Gochugaru requirements can be substituted by any of these ten spicy and flavourful alternatives mentioned above.